The curved edge of the blade tugged urgently at the underside of her skin as he swept his hand across the side of her neck. If her heart had still been pumping, blood would have obscured his view, but she was just dead enough for him to cut with precision and not so long dead that her skin had lost its feeling of life.
Each line he drew formed one side of a shape. A pattern he could see while she had still been dressed and breathing. A vivid lattice of white and rose and purple and red. Human marquetry – just walking around, blithely breathing in and out, in and out, waiting for the form of the art to be discovered. Blind to its own role in the production.
He worked quickly and yet with great care. It was the early hours of Sunday morning but he did not have the advantage of darkness as his cloak – that was reserved for the hackers. He needed bright light so he could clearly see the next line, the grain of the muscle under her skin, the overall design taking form.
He needed bright light once he was gone too so that those who stumbled on his gallery could fully appreciate the majesty of his work.
The last section, the speckling of her cheek complete, he stood to consume her with his eyes for the last time.
As he cleaned his blades and placed them neatly in their roll he felt the elation reserved for a fantastically small number of artists. Painters did not have to catch their canvas, sculptors did not need to subdue their clay, even glorious cabinet makers do not kill their own trees. How many others felt as he felt now ? He knew of no-one.
The site prepared he turned away from her and walked purposefully in the direction of home. It was a long way, and now that he was no longer creating, he felt the chill of the small hours seeping in. He could not afford to be seen hurrying, just walking as if he had an absolute right to be going from one place to another, so he could not speed up to warm himself. Soon enough the chill extended to his mood. The thought of Sunday morning and trudging to church with his wife because she needed to go and feel the glow of God’s forgiveness beaming from the priest’s beatific chubby face.
A glow he knew was not his to be felt. Forgiveness was something no man could bestow upon him. No man could begin to fathom how much there was to forgive.
He quietly opened the back door and walked into the kitchen where he sat down to take off his shoes.
His dog looked up at him, got up from his bed, walked to where he sat and gently licked the back of his hand letting him ruffle the top of his head before slinking back to bed and curling up to sleep.
His dog knew he was free from blame and worthy of love. Maybe if he asked the dog nicely he’d put in a word for him with the big Dog upstairs.